Colombia Police Kill Brothers Heading Cocaine Cartel Hit Squad
BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) _ Police on Tuesday shot to death two brothers who headed a team of assassins said to have slain more than 300 people for the Medellin cocaine cartel, according to the national police chief.
Gen. Miguel Gomez, the police director, said David Ricardo Prisco and Alberto Prisco were slain in separate shootouts with officers who raided their hideouts in the Medellin area.
Their gang, the Priscos, has been linked to the assassinations of Justice Minister Rodrigo Lara Bonilla, Supreme Court Justice Hernando Baquero Borda, El Espectador newspaper publisher Guillermo Cano Isaza and other top Colombian figures, Gomez said.
The brothers themselves had not been accused of being the triggermen in those slayings, only of leading the band that carried them out.
David Ricardo Prisco was killed in Medellin, home of the nation’s most notorious drug cartel, and his brother was killed in the nearby town of Rionegro.
Also killed with David Ricardo Prisco was his nephew, Rodolfo de Jesuus Rivas, Gomez said. Two people were killed with Alberto Prisco. Their identities were not immediately available.
Police said the killings of the Piscos was a blow against the Medellin cartel. Some cartel leaders recently surrendered to authorities in exchange for promises they would be treated leniently and not be extradited to the United States. Many cartel members, wanted in the United States on drug smuggling charges, fear most being sent to face trial in the States.
Gomez said the Piscos gang, in employment of the cartel, had also executed many police officers.
Judges, journalists and law enforcement officials were targeted by the cartel for assassination during the nation’s drug war, which began in August 1989 with the assassination Sen. Luis Carlos Galan, a leading presidential candidate.
Drug traffickers were blamed for the killing, which prompted then-President Virgilio Barco to launched a major offensive against the traffickers.
Galan’s campaign manager, Cesar Gaviria, ran in his slain boss’ place and won the presidential elections last year.
David Ricardo Prisco was considered the No. 9 man in the Medellin cartel, Gomez said at a press conference.
Cartel leaders Jorge Luis Ochoa and his brother Fabio Ochoa recently surrendered to Colombian authorities, leaving the cartel’s top man, Pablo Escobar Gaviria, in apparent sole control.